• DerbyshireFootball

Phillips satisfied with Matlock Town squad as pre-season gets going

Matlock Town boss Paul Phillips says his players are raring to go ahead of their first pre-season friendly on Monday night.

The Gladiators will take on Wirksworth Ivanhoe at the Proctor Cars Stadium in what will be their first match since the COVID-19 pandemic caused the NPL Premier Division season to be curtailed earlier this year.

And with his players not having played for so long, Phillips is keen to use the pre-season programme to fully bring them up to speed ahead of the new campaign which starts on August 14.

He said: “We’re probably playing two more friendly games than we might usually this year, such is the length of time the lads have gone without a game.

Matlock Town boss Paul Phillips. Photo by Jez Tighe.

"That will mean we can give them more minutes more often, all with the aim of having them ready for August 14.

"The players returned to proper training on Monday night and they’re all in good shape and ready for what I’m sure will be an interesting season, and hopefully a full one this time!”

Phillips says he’s happy to have retained so many of last season’s squad, with 14 of his players remaining and four more having signed in the summer.

And he says he doesn’t expect to have to do too much more business before the season begins.

He said: “I think a lot of clubs have found it harder to sign players because so many want to stay put given they only played a few games for them last season, but that can work both ways.

"We’ve retained most of our squad and although we’ve had one or two leave and obviously Adam Yates has retired, we’re in good shape.

"That also means I don’t expect us to even have any trialists in this year, so the friendlies will see players taking part we know will be here for the season and who can stake a claim for a place in the team, although I wouldn’t rule out signing any more if the right player is available.”

Following the Wirksworth game on Monday, Matlock will then host Boston United on Friday, July 9, Derby County U23s on Tuesday, July 13, Mansfield Town on Friday, July 16 and Chesterfield on Wednesday, July 21, before trips to Brighouse Town on Saturday, July 24, Clipstone on Tuesday, July 27, Sheffield FC on Saturday, July 31 and finally Ossett United on Saturday, August 7.

*This article originally appeared in the Derbyshire Times